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Federal Unemployment Benefits Dry Up For Jobless in SA

Photo: Creative Commons Images, License: N/A

Creative Commons Images

For instance, while approximately 16,900 people in Bexar County are currently registered for the federal unemployment assistance program, preliminary BLS figures show nearly 60,000 SAers overall remain unemployed.

Eva Esquivel of Workforce Solutions Alamo—a network representing 12 San Antonio-area counties—says the career service centers see an average of 127,000 customers annually. Esquivel says it’s too soon to tell how many more clients will walk through the doors for job search help in the coming months, but she and others statewide are working overtime to remind unemployed Texans they’re still here to support the process. “We strongly encourage unemployed individuals to learn about the demand jobs in our region so they can adequately prepare themselves to gain those jobs,” she said.

Mark Lavergne of the Texas Workforce Commission offers similar words of encouragement: “We want everyone to know they still have options, that the workforce system and local workforce solutions partners, is [sic] here for them. We are here basically to give them tools they need to find new employment opportunity.”

On a positive note, Lavergne says “The good news is we have a strong economy here in Texas that offers those opportunities,” and points to shrinking jobless rates in Texas—in December 2009 8.2 percent of residents went unemployed, as of November 2013 that number dwindled to 6.1 percent. U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro of San Antonio hopes to come to the rescue when Congress reconvenes this week. He argues the cuts won’t just hurt jobless Americans but will have a hand in crippling the economy.

“It’s not only the benefits, which by the way, only average about $300 [$338 in Texas] a month … but also all that economic development for the country, for retailers, for grocers, etc. so it’s going to have a sizable impact on our economy if Congress doesn’t come back and do something about it,” Castro said on a recent episode of Meet the Press when asked about the economic ramifications of the cuts.

How can it screw up the economy? Stopping unemployment insurance can actually hurt job figures, and doesn’t do anything for job growth. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that extending the benefits for another year would create as many as 300,000 jobs nationwide and in Texas alone, failing to extend the program will cost 11,766 jobs. Part of the reason behind this is that the expiration of benefits could cause the long-term unemployed to refrain from work searches and to altogether leave the labor force, a December report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the Department of Labor concluded.

As for the overall economy—for every dollar of unemployment compensation spent, $1.52 in additional economic activity goes toward goods and services.

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